Bharat Ratna should not be a subject of public debate: Deshmukh

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Latur, Jan 18 (UNI) Amid growing clamour among political parties seeking the Bharat Ratna for the leaders of their own choice, Maharastra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has expressed dismay over the ''unnecessary controversy'', saying conferring of the highest civilian award should not become a matter of public debate which would serve no purpose but only lower its sanctity.

Talking to mediapersons at a dinner meeting here last night, Mr Deshmukh said, ''Every party has a right to express its opinion in this regard, but I think the issue should not become a matter of public debate. There is a selection committee in this regard and the matter should be best left to it.'' The Chief Minister said the scramble over the matter was growing by the day and an end should be put to it.

Asked about reports emanating regarding a demand from the Marathawada region seeking the coveted award for former Union Home Minister S B Chavan posthumously, he said there was no doubt Mr Chavan was a tall leader in his own right and he deserved the award, but that had to be decided by the selection committee constituted in this regard.

The row over the award was first triggered when Leader of the Opposition L K Advani had recommended the name of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for it, a race which was later joined by the CPI(M) and the BSP with both recommending the names of Jyoti Basu and Kanshi Ram respectively.

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